Join the movement!

September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

So, as we said a few weeks ago, we signed up to give 1% of our revenues to sustainability. And we’re just one of over a thousand businesses doing this around the world. We’re all committed to a cause that we’re hoping the big players also decide to take up: keeping our planet in good shape for future generations.

To give you some more flavor of what’s it’s all about, here’s a beautiful video of some 1% for the planet businesses/individuals telling you what it’s all about. Enjoy!

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Not everyone is a possible customer

September 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Popular wisdom says you should pay more attention to the customers that don’t buy your product or take up your service. The thinking is that they have more to share about why they didn’t buy what you have on offer.

But here’s a counter view: PAY THE MOST ATTENTION TO THE CUSTOMERS WHO ARE BUYING FROM YOU!

Before you stop reading, and you blame the customers who don’t buy from you for your poor sales, here are a few points to note:

–          You must be very clear what your product/service is e.g. We sell apples

–          You must be very clear who your target customer is e.g. We sell apples to expectant mothers

–          You must be very clear about your price point e.g. We sell expensive apples to expectant mothers

–          You must be very clear about the placement/location of your service e.g. We sell expensive apples to expectant mothers from our street stalls outside of Nordstrom

Only when you are crystal clear about the four things above (amongst other considerations of course) will you be able to say without a doubt that the customer who walked past your product and didn’t buy from you is not your customer. And only then can you safely say that the ‘missed sale’ was not actually a missed sale. In the eventuality that an expectant mother coming out of Nordstrom walks past your stall and does NOT buy your apples then you do have a serious problem.

If a pregnant mother walks out of Nordstrom and buys your apples then you better be prepared to ask at least three questions (while you’re taking her money for the apples) that will help you identify

1.  How many times a month she comes to Nordstrom: which indicate possible repeat purchases for your apples

2.  How many apples she normally buys: which help you clarify your inventory numbers

3.  What else does she like to have with her apples: which tell you what complementary products you should start selling along with your apples.

You’ve got a captive customer and there is no better chance of success in your business than if you can assure recurring revenue from the clients who already like your service and don’t need any more convincing. You can rest assured they’ll tell their expectant-mother-Nordstrom-shopping friends about your stall and your apples…

It’s a small business so don’t run it as inefficiently as a Fortune 500 (or 5 tips for running your small business efficiently)

September 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Have you ever worked for a big business? If so, you know roles overlap across departments leading to gross inefficiencies (and money wasted) and things never seem to be done on time (despite the availability of resources). It’s like flushing money down the toilet

In your small business, you have all the same ‘departments’ as a big business. Regardless of size, you deal with legal (you had to register your company didn’t you?), human resources (you have to hire or engage with people), accounting (I’m hoping someone checks your books?), IT/Web (you’re reading this online so that’s a ‘Yes’) and since you’re calling it a business, and hope to gain some economic value from running the venture, you do some marketing and (very importantly) sales. But you cannot afford to do these things inefficiently. There’s very little money to waste (hence the term small business).

So, below are cost effective tips to efficiently manage your crucial business functions to gain  control of your internal operations.

  1. Legal: Get the services of a registered lawyer to draft your first agreements and contracts. Then switch to a legal review service (and reuse those initial drafts) for subsequent engagements. The initial legal costs of around $300/hr will save you hassles when your business grows (at which point a badly written contract from the early days might lead to a lawsuit).
  2. Human Resources: I read a few days ago that you should ‘hire slowly but fire quickly’ but small businesses need to hire quickly (because you need the resources like yesterday) and fire slowly (while you search to hire someone else). Not too many people provide recommendations for incompetent contacts; your network provides the required vetting and assessment that big companies pay HR to do. The rest is determining whether there is a ‘fit’. Use your network as HR.
  3. Accounting: You started your business to provide a service or sell a product and not to pore over financial spreadsheets (unless your service is to pore over other people’s financial information). If you like human interaction get a bookkeeper or, if you don’t, use Quicken to handle the day to day entries (linked to your bank account) that determine whether you’re making more than you are spending.  Also hire an accountant to look through this information on a regular basis, especially before tax season.
  4. Business Tools (Software):  Nowadays your business can’t survive without email (Gmail), your accounting as mentioned above (Google docs has a basic spreadsheet tool), conferencing (GoToMeeting) and marketing campaigns (MailChimp). These tools, and a host of others, help you do a lot more with less.
  5. Business Tools (Utilities): there’s no dearth of free small business tools out there for lead management (PipeJump or Zoho CRM) free telephone calls (the recently launched Google Call) and fax through email (MyFax). The point is that there is no excuse for not using these tools, you can measure the results and, for the most part, these are free.

What you cannot pay for will have to dedicate time to. And, unless you like wasting your time on running a business inefficiently, you might as well do it right and do it well. Do it well and, you never know, your business might make the Fortune 500 someday. Dreams come true you know…

Supporting Recycling at the Jazz Festival

September 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

Recycle Can at Jazz fest

Jazz Festival

Nicole Mitchel at the Jazz Festival

Power2Switch supporting recycling

I had a blast at the Jazz Festival listening to the amazing music of Nicole Mitchell (Artist in Residence) and her Black Earth Ensemble playing songs from ‘Arc of O’. Fab way of spending a Sunday afternoon.

Also amazing for Power2Switch was the opportunity ‘To do good by doing something’ (paraphrasing Yves Chouinard). We partnered with FreeGreenCan.com to make recycle cans available at the festival. We’re pretty chuffed by this and it’s the start of an ongoing partnership.

Enjoy the pictures!

1% for the planet (Do good by doing something)

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

In our belief that we should replenish the resources we take from our planet, POWER2SWITCH has just signed a commitment with 1% FOR THE PLANET (a not-for profit started by Patagonia’s Yves Chouinard) to donate 1% of our annual revenues to environmental causes we select through the organization.

It’s our way of saying thank you and giving back on behalf of you our customers. You can sign up too.

Tax Credits for energy star upgrades

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

This week’s tip is one that should put some money back in your pockets for buying Energy Star equipment for your business:

Tax credits exist for utilizing Energy Star appliances in your commercial property: You or your commercial property management agent/company can apply for tax credits that give you money back for making energy efficiency upgrades to appliances/fittings and fixtures.

Regardless of the size or scale of the upgrades you will have to do them at some point and a good source for further information is http://www.business.gov/manage/green-business/energy-efficiency/get-started/tax-credits.html

Who takes care of the wires?

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

This week’s tip is more of a response to a question we get from a lot of our customers:

Will I lose my electricity supply when I switch from Comed? The simple answer is NO! Comed own and operate the transmission wires and lines and, regardless of who your new supplier is, your supply is guaranteed by Comed. Comed is mandated by law to continue to service you the customer whoever your supplier is http://www.pluginillinois.org/ConsumerRights.aspx

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